at de Brún was elected President of the Student Union in March 2011, buy a role making him the chief representative of all UCD students. A weighty title and a major responsibility, help de Brún brought with him all the experience of his years spent as class rep, ask Law/B&L Programme Officer, UCD Academic Council member and, most recently, UCDSU Campaigns and Communications Vice-President. Almost a year on, what has he achieved to date?
As Sabbatical-Officer-in-Chief, de Brún made promises in all areas of student life, education being perhaps the most important. Re-sit/repeat fees being at the forefront of many a students’ worries, de Brún pledged to endeavour to have these fees reduced in 2011/12. When asked whether progress was being made in this area, de Brún replied: “Work is ongoing…but it is proving extremely difficult.”
He assured the College Tribune that “good progress was being made” though the Budget announcement that Universities will face successive budget cuts over the next three years have “scuppered” the Union’s attempts. The impending publication of the comprehensive end-of-year accounts will no doubt cast light on how our Student Union is coping with the current economic situation in all areas. De Brún expects to have the accounts ready for publication within 2-3 weeks.
Keeping the focus on education, many students availed of the 24-hour study area set up in the Student Centre in the run up to exams last semester. Both Sam Geoghegan and Pat de Brún promised to make this a permanent feature in the new Student Centre, a campaign promise many students are anxious to see completed. According to de Brún, he has “agreed with the student centre management that a permanent 24-hour study area will be available when the new student centre building opens.”
Perhaps one of de Brún more ambitious campaign pledges was to introduce a 10% pay cut for sabbatical officers and create a student hardship fund with the proposed savings. Some students may be surprised to hear that this pay cut did indeed go ahead, though it was ultimately not placed into the welfare fund. “Due to the unforeseen financial crisis that occurred this year within the SU, it wasn’t possible to directly pass money from saved wages on to the welfare fund…a special effort was made to find the money elsewhere.” De Brún added that the Students’ Union had “succeeded in this by getting agreement from Kylemore that they would make a significant contribution to the Welfare Fund.”
Considering the Union’s success in setting up a student hardship fund, the College Tribune asked de Brún if he feels that he has been as successful in his campaign to ensure that grant recipients receive their payments on time. He commented that he has “has been doing plenty of work alongside USI to ensure a smooth implementation of the Student Support Act” and that he is “delighted that we will finally have the single Grant Awarding Authority set up and ready to go for all students in the next academic year.” He went on to assure students currently dealing with the difficulty of late grant payments that although “there have been some lingering problems with county councils” the SU “have been doing our best to lobby them to ensure speedier payment of grants.”
It would appear, for all intents and purposes, that it has been a busy, yet overall successful year so far for our Student Union President.